Claire had one of her funnest days in memory today.

First off, Grammy Joyce is in town, which always means a fun day for Claire. Grammy is recently retired and can dedicate most of her time to playing, reading, cuddling, and just goofing off with little Claire. Grammy is not quite as familiar with dumb words like “busy” and “later” as Mommy and Daddy are, and she does not tend to get distracted, tired, or irritated. Plus she’s just lots of fun. So the morning was mostly dedicated to playtime.

Around 11:00, Mommy, who is a Chief Resident, had to meet co-chiefs Chrissie and Shelby in McKoy Park in Decatur to prepare the 2nd Annual Picnic in the Park for the Emory pathology department. This was a project the three of them had been preparing for the last several weeks. Grammy and Daddy stayed at home and fed Claire a nice lunch and hung out for a while. After that, it was off to McKoy park to join Mommy’s festivities.

Ordinarily, a picnic in a park with all those people and kids and swings and grass would be pretty darn good. But this was an extra special picnic, because it had a moonwalk! We weren’t sure Claire was even old enough to handle this, but she took to it like, well, a kid to a big bouncy playroom. I could explain how much fun Claire had on this thing, but why don’t you just see for yourself (Grammy is also a dedicated documentarian).

By the time we dragged Claire away from the moonwalk, maybe an hour later, she was pretty worn out from all the fun. She spent the rest of the picnic drinking lemonade, socializing with her old pals like Kelly and Baby Luke (Chrissie’s kid), and eating watermelon and grapes on Grammy’s lap while I enjoyed lots of delicious BBQ ribs.

But Kit had to work. She stayed and took care of the picnic after the rest of us headed home. She and Shelby and Chrissie got to have their own well-earned fun while waiting for the moonwalk guy to come reclaim his big, fun toy. They had the moonwalk all to themselves, and put it to good use. They also provided snowcones to random kids in the park who lined up by the rented snowcone machine, thinking it was just a public service. It looks like Claire was not the only one who had a fun day.

Called in Sick

Just a quick note that this is the first time I have ever called Claire in sick for school. She had a minor head cold, and I figured we should drop her off with Grace rather than spread the germs. I think Claire picked up the cold when we took her to the doctor a few days ago. The funny thing is that Claire is liking school a lot, and probably would have preferred to go in if the choice were up to her.

Girl Can Talk

Most of Claire’s conversations still sound like this one today: “Baby Davis. Crying. Gracie. Infinity and beyond!” It is sort of a loose stream of consciousness monologue. In this case, Clair is noting Baby Davis’ common practice of crying, something which she sometimes imitates as “Waaaa! Waaaa!” Caire goes on to notate her other two main weekday companions, Grace of course, and Reese doing Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story.

But Claire is occasionally involving us in real conversations lately. She had this discussion with her Mom while getting ready for her bath last night.

Claire: Mommy, do it!
Kit: Do what?
Claire: Toby!
Kit: Who’s Toby?
Claire: I dunno!

And then she giggles and storms down the hall, returning a minute later to reiterate, “Toby! Toby!” Kit and I, by the way, have no idea who Toby is, but we were rolling on the floor laughing after this exchange. (Editor’s note: We later discovered that Toby is a blond four year old boy in Reese’s class who Claire thinks is especially funny.)

Claire is also forming more substantial sentences. This week when I was picking her up from Grace, Claire carried a book over to Baby Davis and proclaimed, “I’ll read it to Baby Davis” rather than just something like, “Read baby Davis.” Another example is if I walk out of the room, she’ll sometimes say, “Daddy’s coming back.” And today (Sunday), Claire was looking at a picture of herself with Reese and Grace and announced, “I’ll see Gracie tomorrow.” She may actually understand the idea of tomorrow and the basic schedule of two days at home and then back to Grace. On the other hand, she seems to invoke “tomorrow” to mean more or less the same thing as “later”, but a little stronger, like “more later”.

Claire sometimes even talks about her emotions. A few weeks ago, she walked into the living room after a bad wakeup from a nap, and with her lips puckered, she quietly said, “Sad” and then walked away. Yesterday in the car she was having a small fit because we took her drink away from her, and she said, “I’m crying.” And after a brief struggle this morning over changing out of her pajamas and into real clothes, she actually said, “I’m sorry. It’s okay.” The funny thing is that when she says something like this, that she is sad or crying or sorry, she almost always calms down immediately. It is almost like she is soothing herself. Hey, whatever works!

Last Day of Pool

Today the Garden Hills Pool, our favorite summer weekend hangout, closed for the year. Forget about Labor Day; this is the real end of summer.

The last half hour of operation every year, the pool hosts a dog swim. People bring their dogs and let them go nuts in the pool before they drain it. Kit and I had wanted to check this out for the last couple of years, but we never managed to actually get over there. Since today was our last chance ever to see this, we finally made it, and I am glad we did. The weather was perfect, finally not too hot, and a bunch of wet dogs were running around and swimming and barking. And a bunch of wet kids were doing the same thing (minus the barking, fortunately). It made me want to jump in too! But this was just a quick visit in the evening, and we did not bring our bathing suits. Anyways, it was a fine way to close out the summer.

Blue Train, Green Train

Claire is obsessed with Thomas the Train. As Grace would say, “Le encanta!”

For example, I bought Claire some new Thomas the Train cups. Now whenever I make her a drink, Claire ask for her new cups by name, “Thomas cup! Thomas cup!” Then she will look at the cups and recite the name of the trains over and over…Thomas, Henry, James. This is often punctuated by a loud drawn out, “Thoommas!”

For the most part, this Thomas obsession is harmless. But now it is encroaching on our bedtime reading choices. We have started asking Claire which book she would like to read, and every night she quickly says, “Thomas book!” meaning her little board book entitled Blue Train, Green Train. It is great to see Claire so enthusiastic about reading and what not, but Kit and I have come to loath that damn Thomas book.

Our dislike is not just due to boredom or repetition; we can read something like There’s a Wocket in my Pocket all night. The real problem here is that Blue Train, Green Train is just a terrible book. It is supposed to be a rhyming sing-song type of book, but the rhythm jumps all over the place, and it is very jarring to read. Here is a sample.

Unload the blue bikes,
red wagons, orange trikes!
Unload the new toys
for happy little girls and boys!

Down goes the yellow sun.
Blue train Thomas' day is done.
Home now to the Shed.
"Peep!  Peep!"  The Shed is where
Thomas can sleep.

Well done, blue train.
Have fun, green train.

Up peeps the white moon.
Green train starts soon.
"Peep!  Peep!"  Clickety-clack!
Green train Percy on the track.

Load up all the mail
and unload along the rail.

I picked this book because it has a variety of things for Claire to look at and name, like blue bikes, red wagons, and orange “trikes.” Fortunately Claire does seem to be warming up to other books with lots of stuff to look at, such as the terrific Carl the Dog books. One great thing about the Carl books is that they have almost no words.

First Day of Pre-Pre-School

Today Claire started preschool. School starts at 9:00 am, so we have a little extra time to burn in the morning. It’s not enough time to do anything substantial like work in the yard or do any serious errands, but it is enough time to cook up a special “power breakfast” to help Claire keep her energy and mood up for the whole morning. So we had an egg, tomato, onion, and cheese omelet to start things off right.

The drop off at school was not bad. After last week’s meet & greet, I knew exactly where to go and what to bring. And Claire already knew the classroom was a fun place to hang out with Ms. Betsy. Claire and I arrived a few minutes early, so we spent some extra time naming all the animals on the large Noah’s Ark mural in the hallway. Animals are one of Claire’s specialties, and she was able to name all of them.

After a few minutes, I dropped her off with her bag of supplies and headed for the door pretty quickly. Claire made a run for me as I walked down the hall, saying “Daddy, Daddy!” in an excited but not panicked voice. Ms. Betsy swooped her up and took her back to the room without incident.

I was to meet Grace back at the school at noon to pick Claire up and introduce Grace to everyone as someone who is “cool” to pick up Claire. I worked on my laptop in a coffee shop near the preschool during the morning to avoid wasting the nearly hour round trip in the car. This worked out well, and it would be fun working from coffee shops more often except for calling into meeting on my pay-by-the-minute cell phone with The Beatles playing in the background. I actually had to retreat to the car for the 11:00 conference call.

The pickup went fine, and Claire was happy to see me, Grace, Reese (who was in the class two doors down), and Melanie all show up. Ms. Betsy told us that Claire did not cry at all, she had a very good time, and she talked a lot. I felt a little bad, because Melanie had just told me that Reese had cried for the first two weeks of preschool. As we left the classroom, Claire said her loud “gooodbyyye!”, and we headed out with her first school drawing (hey, at least she got the scribbles on the page). Grace and Melanie struggled a bit getting Claire, Reese, and Baby Davis in the back seat of the Camry, and I headed back to work at home until the afternoon pickup. Aside from some logistical issues, this school thing seems to be working out pretty well so far.